Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Confessions: Aware

Jamie tried to wiggle her toe. She longed to feel her toenail scratch against the coarse sheet that covered her, but try as she might it seemed that she would remain a prisoner in her own body. At least for today.  She wasn't sure how long she had been there.  The last thing she remembered was climbing in the front seat of her best friend Sarah's truck, and driving down the highway with the radio blaring and Sarah's cousin Travis trying to read their itinerary from the backseat.

They had all been friends since seventh grade when Jamie had met the "dynamic duo" in English class and they had become a trio almost immediately.  Sarah and Travis were lithe, blond and fair-skinned and were often mistaken for twins (and only occasionally a couple). They were beautiful like the elves in Lord of the Rings and Jamie sometimes felt like a hobbit standing between the two with her dark hair, hazel eyes, short legs and curvier figure.  Sarah's parents had given her the truck as a graduation present and she had convinced Jamie that the only way to celebrate graduation and their last summer of freedom before "real life" started was to go on a roadtrip just the three of them. 

Jaime snickered.  Real life had hit them faster than they ever could have imagined and they never even saw it coming. Of course, the nurse who was in the room using the phone next to Jamie's bed to make what sounded like a personal call about an errant child didn't even pause in her conversation because Jamie's snicker didn't even register as the tiniest blip on any of the monitors.  From what Jamie overheard her doctor telling her parents in hushed tones in the corner, she concluded that while they weren't sure how long she'd be like this they did know she wasn't a vegetable.

At least she had that going for her, Jamie thought to herself.

Try as she may though, it seemed she couldn't alert them to her presence.  When she first became aware of her surroundings, the rhythmic whooshing of the respirator and the beeping machines, she'd tried to get up in spite of the fact that there was something wrong with her eyes and she couldn't see.  When her mother came to see her and stood next to the bed brushing Jamie's hair, Jamie had screamed so hard inside that she'd given herself a headache.  They could see the spike in her heart rate and their fancy monitors told them she had a headache. They knew she was there.  They just didn't know how aware she was. 

Day after day, Jamie tried to wiggle a toe or squeeze her mother's hand during her daily visits when she would beg Jamie to give her a sign she was there.  Jamie's consciousness faded in and out, and she thought she might be sleeping in those times though it was hard to be sure.  It was difficult keeping her days straight, especially because she couldn't see. There was a woman who worked evenings, Jamie thought she might be a nurse, who talked to Jamie every time she was on shift as if she knew Jamie could hear her.  She didn't seem to mind that she didn't get an answer. Every night she would turn on the television and even though Jamie couldn't see it, she could listen to the prime time shows and the nightly news.

Sometimes Sarah would come visit, and those were the visits Jaime hated the most.  Though she couldn't remember what happened, apparently there had been an accident.  It seemed Sarah had walked away without a scratch, but Travis hadn't been so lucky. Travis was recovering on another unit in another hospital.  According to one of the ladies who came in to roll her over and change her sheets, Travis had been thrown from the truck in the accident and had "torn his pretty face off on the pavement".  The phrase haunted Jaime, especially when Sarah came to visit because she just sat next to the bed week after week crying and begging for forgiveness.  As much as Jamie wanted to reach out, there was nothing she could do but listen. 

Eventually, people stopped treating her like a person and started treating her like a piece of furniture.  Jamie was aware of them all though. Hospital staff came and went, sometimes using her bedside phone or discussing their personal lives with each other as they tended to her most intimate needs as if she wasn't even there.  When what was left of her friends came to visit, they just talked over her body about things she knew nothing about, not even really acknowledging her until they left and said goodbye.  

Not everyone treated her like a coffee table to be spoken over, though the only visits she truly enjoyed were from her mother who brushed her hair and talked to her about her friends and current events, only sometimes asking Jamie if she was "in there". The people who didn't treat her like furniture could be just as bad as the ones who did though; Maybe it was because she couldn't react or respond, but some people took the opportunity to confess things to Jamie and mentally unburden themselves of things she never wanted to hear.  A guy from high school visited once, and as Jamie laid there he told her how he'd liked her for years and how he masturbated to her yearbook photo and how pretty she still looked.  The janitor talked to her one night about his son, how he worried about him and wishes he could meet a pretty girl like her because he was sure Jamie was a nice smart girl who could keep him on the right track.  Her aunt admitted she was always jealous because Jamie was healthy, beautiful and smart, while her boys had so many problems and she wondered if it was because of her exhusband who was so abusive, even during her pregnancy (something Jamie never knew).  At one point, Jamie remembered her Dad telling her it was ok to just let go, even once begging her to so he could finally leave her mom.  Then, there was the doctor who came in with an intern who discussed how hopeful he was that Jamie's parents would soon "come to their senses and let her go" as there were patients who could benefit from her accident. 

Sometimes, the confessions and the things people told her were awful.  Jamie could do nothing but listen. She had no way of getting away, and she had no way of communicating anything to anyone, and she grew lonely being unable to express herself, or share thoughts and ideas.  She was forgotten outside of designated visiting hours and even when she wasn't she was still in the middle of a crowded room screaming, and no one could hear her.  She was trapped,and painfully aware.